“Become exceptional by competing with who you were yesterday to be a better person today.”

That’s what Jason A. Ottley, a West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services graduate, tells himself when he looks in the mirror every morning. It is that drive and determination that led Ottley to receive a $20,000 annual stipend from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to pursue his Ph.D.

The SREB works with institutions in 16 states to improve and diversify education at every level. The Doctoral Award is given to only two students who are pursuing a Ph.D. and future career as college or university professors.

“We are very pleased to have identified another qualified WVU doctoral scholar to participate in the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program,” said SREB State Doctoral Program Director Ansley Abraham.

“The Doctoral Scholars Program is one of the nation’s most successful initiatives of support for underrepresented minorities to earn their doctoral degree and to pursue an academic career,” Abraham continued. “We look forward to having the 50th scholar from West Virginia to participate in the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program.”

Ottley, who is African-American, is originally from Washington, D.C., but grew up in rural West Virginia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education from WVU in 2005. In 2011, he became founder and CEO of Empowering Relationships, LLC, where he helps clients empower and enrich their personal relationships. He has traveled the country giving talks at colleges, universities and churches on how to have healthy relationships.

After publishing his first book, titled Pillow Talk, Ottley knew he wanted to continue empowering people through his work. He decided to pursue a Ph.D. in human development and family studies in order to better serve his clients.

“Years ago when I got my masters’, that set me apart,” said Ottley. “Now, in the field I’m in, a Ph.D. will allow me to set myself apart. Going after my Ph.D. will enable me to be a greater service to my community and give back on a larger platform.”

Constinia Charbonnette, program director for WVU Fellowships and Recruitment, believes Ottley, as well as WVU, will benefit greatly as a result of the award.

“Mr. Ottley’s dedication to service, scholarship and social justice is nothing short of spectacular,” Charbonnette said of Ottley.

“Over the past year, I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know Mr. Ottley and, based on my interactions with him, I believe that he will continue the College of Education’s long legacy of greatness and academic success. I predict that he will be one of our brightest stars.”

Ottley will continue to run Empowering Relationships while earning his Ph.D.

His next goal? To be on the New York Times Best Seller list.



CONTACT: Christie Zachary, College of Education and Human Services
304.293.0224; Christie.Zachary@mail.wvu.edu

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